Elderly man fined $2377 for sign in his caravan window
AN ELDERLY pensioner told Maroochydore Magistrates Court he would rather go to jail than pay almost $2500 for placing a "look only" sign in his caravan window.
Frank Ross, 78, said he never meant to break the law when trying to sell his caravan.
He had been told by a friend that if the sign said "look only" instead of "for sale" with a price it would pass council regulations.
But when he parked his van on Nicklin Way on June 1 last year he incurred a $220 infringement notice.
The pensioner, who has spent a lifetime helping others through charities such as Lions Clubs and Legacy, thought he would get justice in the courts.
This backfired last Monday.
"I got an attack of the nerves, I bumbled away my defence," Mr Ross said.
"The magistrate imposed the $220 fine, then an extra $2000 for the (council's) solicitor's cost and then an extra $157 for the cost of court.
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"What price is justice when you believe you are innocent and you believe if you go to court you can explain your case, but no one listens to you?'' Mr Ross said.
"I said to the magistrate, I'm going to refuse to pay the fine and go to jail.
"He said to me, 'I can't send you to jail. If you don't pay your fine we are going to take your licence off you'.
"I am an old pensioner. I haven't got $2000 and I don't believe I committed an offence knowingly.''
Frustrated with the council's lack of response, Mr Ross held a one-man placard protest outside the council's Nambour chambers in 35 degree heat on Friday.
Mr Ross said he didn't blame the court for the huge bill but he wondered why the council would claim "all these costs".
"It is totally unfair, I don't want to break the damn law, not at my age.''
A council spokesman said it was "a judicial process, not a council process, and this gentleman elected to go to court".
"Council had to pay for a lawyer to defend this action in the court.''
It didn't matter whether the sign said "interested" or "for sale", the spokesman said.
"It's about the intent of the sign.''